Fixing The World Cup

Feel like coming down from cloud 9 if you’re a US fan, just for a moment?

The next two days feature games identified by the world’s foremost expert on match fixing in soccer as ones to watch: Cameroon vs. the Netherlands, and Honduras vs. Switzerland.

Declan Hill explains all in his blog, but here’s why he identifies those two games in particular (without accusing anyone of anything):

The fixers are in South Africa. They have been desperately trying to contact various teams. They have various runners and old contacts coming in and out of the hotels and training camps. They are trying ‘to do the business’ with various players and administrators.

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Given these circumstances which matches should we red-flag for possible corruption?

1)Games where one team has nothing to play for. Even if they win the teams will not progress to the next stage of the competition.

2)Teams which have a history of not paying their players properly. It is the phenomenon of relative exploitation which drives fixing. The officials receive lots of money, the players comparatively little.

The games I will be watching closely are Cameroon vs. the Netherlands and Honduras vs. Switzerland. In no way do I want to suggest that I have heard anything about players on these teams being open to fixing matches. In no way do I want to suggest that even if they had been approached the players would have taken money. But I do want to say that if either of these teams loses by more than the Asian ‘spread’ of goals (2 goals and above) then FIFA should bring in their toothless tigers of investigators and begin to ask questions.

Just, you know, keep this in the back of your mind for the next couple of days. It’s worth pointing out Declan has been proved right in the past in raising these issues; and moreover, his simple suggestion that FIFA pays players directly to avoid the kind of problems that tempt players (risking being unpaid at a tournament that rakes in billions for governing bodies and their officials) has gained no traction with the authorities.

It is very easy to stop the problem. FIFA should pay the players directly. There should be wages and incentive bonuses for every game won, for each stage of the tournament a player helps his team reach, even for the number of goals that a player scores. This money should be directly into the players’ bank accounts by FIFA. These amounts should be publicly announced. This way all players know exactly how much they are supposed to receive and if national associations or sponsors want to add to this money – great. But each World Cup player should not only know how much they will be paid, they should know they will be paid and paid well.

Why not, FIFA? Why not?

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